San Francisco Set to Be the First City to Ban Sales of Flavored E-Liquid in the US
On Wednesday June 21, San Francisco became the first US city to pass a measure that would effectively ban the sales of flavored and menthol e-juices.
San Francisco’s city lawmakers passed the ban with a unanimous vote reports the Associated Press. The sales of e-liquids that are tobacco flavored will be the only flavors exempt from the ban.
“We’re focusing on flavored products because they are widely considered to be a starter product for future smokers,” stated Supervisor Malia Cohen, one of the bill’s sponsors. “For too many years, the tobacco industry has selectively targeted our young adults with products that are deceptively associated with fruits and mint and candy.”
Cohen, who represents the historically black Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood stated that tobacco companies advertise ten times more in black neighborhoods, the LGBTQ community and other minorities specifically targeting fruit and candy flavored nicotine products to the youth.
“Menthol cools the throat so you don’t feel the smoke and the irritants and it masks the flavors. This legislation is about saying enough is enough,” Cohen stated, whose grandmother died of emphysema after a lifetime of smoking menthol cigarettes.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association said that the ordinance is “complete nonsense” and completely ignores the scientifically proven benefits of flavored vaping products. Read: Penn State Study: Vaping Is Less Addictive Than Smoking
“There is a great deal of evidence that flavors are critical to helping adults quit smoking by helping them disconnect from the taste of tobacco,” said Conley, who himself was able to quit smoking by vaping watermelon flavored e-juice.
To further prove his point, Conley referenced a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released just last week, whose results showed that the number of middle school and high school students using e-cigs fell to 2.2 million in the past year in comparison to 3 million from the year before. The CDC also estimated that the number of middle school and high school students who used tobacco products fell to 3.9 million last year being 4.7 million the year before. Read: Teen Vaping Numbers Fall, Study Says
“Unfortunately, San Francisco supervisors ignored the data and the stories about how vaping was the only thing that helped many smokers quit,” Conley said.
San Francisco business owners who violate the law risk having their city tobacco sales permits suspended. After hearing of the new measure’s passing, small business owners are worried that they will lose business because consumers will instead turn to buying the e-liquids from online stores or simply drive to neighboring cities for their purchases.
“Those tobacco products aren’t 100% of our revenue, but they are an anchor product,” Miriam Zouzounis, a board member of the Arab American Grocers Association, told the San Franciso Chronicle. “Even at 15% of our stock, it’s what brings people through the door. We can’t compete with Safeway or Walgreens for food and milk items, let alone the online retailers filling the gap for every else.”
The measure needs one more vote by the board in the coming week, a vote that it is expected to pass. If it does, the new law will take effect in April 2018.